14 July 2018

To all the windmills I have tilted at ere now

Worth stating at the outset that the theme of this post is celebration.

It is now seventeen years since I first composed Counting Sheep (or, The Dreamy Abacus of Don Quijote), an 11-minute fantasy for piano and woodwind quintet.

(I believe I found the alternative orthography for the Don in Washington Irving.  Possibly when I tarried in Oklahoma.)

The piece was not played then, nor has it ever been played since.  Relatively recently, I tried to find an audience for it four years ago, and indeed last year.

(There was even, once, long ago, the mad idea of arranging it for wind ensemble in hopes of a reading.  By which I mean, I actually prepared and submitted such an arrangement.  But, honestly, I do not see any reason to preserve that temporary whim of orchestration.)

There is no news, now, about, my Dreamy Abacus, no, it remains a dream.

I am posting merely to say that whenever I revisit it, it remains a most beautiful dream.

Whenever I write a piece, where there is a group or event for which it is meant, but it winds up (for whatever reason) unperformed, naturally there is a sense of disappointment;  I am not made of marble.

The disappointment is a moment, not a marker.  I write the next thing.  Far from being mired in this or that disappointment, I live in each new piece which I complete and in which I take fresh artistic pride, in each performance, year in, year out, to which an actual audience responds with pleasure, and perhaps even a measure of astonishment.

The Henningmusick catalogue has become extensive enough that (and perhaps this is only an admission that my attention is limited) music which I wrote 20, or 10, or even four years ago may drop out of my awareness.  One benefit of this phenomenon is, one morning I am looking through the files, and I find (say) Counting Sheep—and the gratifying thought freshly arises, What a cool piece.

Am I disappointed anew?  No.  I remember the disappointment of the time as a fact, sure.  My feeling today is pleasure at the thought and fact of the work, and (yes) some puzzlement that the piece has (still) not been performed.

What can we say today?  “It hasn’t yet been performed, but I know that someday, perhaps soon, it will be”...?  I know no such thing;  what I know is, the piece has lain unperformed for nearly two decades.  There is no external reason on this wide earth why it will not lie unperformed for another equal or greater interval.

What I know is, I think it a great piece, and I am fiercely proud to have created it.

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